The Garden as a Classroom

Horticulture, Landscape Design, and Entomology classes all utilize the Display and Trial Garden in various courses. Classes in the garden offer students an up close look at plants and insects creating a memorable learning experience.

Woody and Herbaceous Plants (Hort 1015)

The Display and Trial Garden maintains approximately 70 herbaceous plant species for use in the course “Woody and Herbaceous Plants”.  Through use of plant morphology, and by learning characteristics common to specific plant families, students learn how to identify nearly 200 plants by scientific and common name throughout the semester.  During early semester labs, students are led on walks through the garden to view and photograph herbaceous plants; during these walks students also gather information on habitat preference and zone hardiness of commonly-grown herbaceous garden plants.

Cut Flower Garden for Floral Design (Hort 1013)

This year, the Display and Trial Garden will be growing flowers for the fall semester’s “Cut Flower Garden for Floral Design” class.  In this course, students learn basic floral design elements as well as how to make arrangements for corsages, wedding bouquets, and holiday and seasonal arrangements.  Species planted for the course include Canna Lilies, Dahlias, Black Eyed Susan, Pinks, Foxglove, Amaranth, and more.

Common Chinese Medicinal Plants: Classification, Identification, and Application (Hort 5011)

Chinese elementsThe philosophy: The Chinese medicinal plant garden displays herbs based on the philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine—Yin and Yang, the Five Elements (WoodFire, Earth, Metal and Water), and the Vital Substances (QiBloodJin (Body Fluids), Jing (Essence), and Shen (Spirit)). 

The design:  The garden plot was designed with the integration of wet and dry land, Yin and Yang (Tai Ji pattern). The Tai-Ji pattern is shaped by a trail, in which the north side is the Yin, and the south side is the Yang.

The plants: The distribution of plants grown in this garden plot corresponds to the balance of Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, and the Substances that the plants correspond. In the Tai-Ji pattern, Yin and Blood tonic herbs, such as Angelica, Fo-ti, Solomon’s seal, and lily, are grown in the North; Yang and Qi tonic herbs, such as Codonopsis, Astragalus, Licorice, are grown in the South. In this cycle, Yin and Yang are not only balanced, but also can be transferred from one to another. To display the nature of Yin/Yangtransferring, we grow a Codonopsis, a Qi tonic herb in the eye-spot of Yinarea; and a peony, a Blood tonic herb in the eye-spot of Yang area. Like Yinand Yang, the Five Elements are also a universal law and a concept in ancient Chinese philosophy referring to the nature of materials as well as their interrelationships. In this garden plot, we grow Black sesame at the North outside of the Tai-ji cycle, here Black and North refer to the Water. Similarly, we grow a balanced herb, Chili pepper, on the South—Red and South refer to the Fire. Others such as White mum flowers on the West, and Mung (Green) beans on the East, because White and West refer to the Metal and Green and East refer to the Wood. The rest of plants are grown in clusters related to their treatments for human health problems, for example, Japanese Knotweed, Salvia, and Safflower promote or treat blood deficiency, which we plant them as a cluster in the far southwest corner of the plot. The entrance trail is shaped with aromatic herbs such as Artemisia (L-dry land, Heat-clearing), Argastache rugosa (R-wet land, Aromatic Damp-dissolving). Here is the generation and control circle of Five Elements (See Figure at right).

This Garden was initially sponsored by a gift fund from Ms. Mary Hoover, and is now a popular teaching site. Email chenx481@umn.edu if you have further questions and thanks for visiting.